It’s MVP vs. Rookie in Do-Or-Die Game with Tigers and A’s

Those people who are engaged in baseball betting are extremely excited about the kind of suspense that is created by a legitimate do-or-die game. Well, they’ve got one at the O.co Coliseum on Thursday night, as the Oakland Athletics will play host to the Detroit Tigers in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, with the winner advancing to the American League Championship Series.

For the Tigers, it will be former Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander making the start, while the A’s will send rookie Sonny Gray to the mound.

In the baseball betting odds that have been posted at BetAnySports, the A’s are the slight favorites:

Oakland Athletics (Gray) -106
Detroit Tigers (Verlander) -104

Under 6.5 Runs -120
Over 6.5 Runs +100

How have the A’s won two straight division titles and out themselves in a position where they could be a legitimate World Series contender? Some BetAnySports customers would give a great deal of credit to general manager Billy Beane, who was immortalized in the movie “Moneyball.” And it is probably true that it does take some very skillful movement of the chess pieces to play with a limited bankroll; with players who are not all that well known, and scale the heights the A’s have.

In Game 5 a rookie is the favorite over a Cy Young winner and league MVP.

Sonny Gray was a great pitcher at Vanderbilt University who became the first-round selection for the A’s in the 2011 draft. He came up with the big club to stay on August 10, and has been outstanding in his rookie campaign.

Only once has Gray gone less than five innings in a start, and he was hard to hit on an overall basis, compiling a 2.67 ERA. he went to the mound in Game 2 of this series against Verlander, and was dazzling, striking out nine batters in eight shutout innings and allowing only four hits. He did not officially get the win, but it doesn’t get much better than that. Oakland has won his last five starts, and that is something baseball bettors should take into account.

Justin Verlander essentially matched Gray is what was a tremendous Game 2 duel. He went seven innings and gave up just four hits. And Verlander was overpowering, fanning eleven Oakland batters. Even though Verlander is coming off what, by his standards, might be a so-so regular season, in his last three starts he has been brilliant, pitching 19 scoreless innings with 13 hits and 33 strikeouts. But he has not gone beyond the seventh inning in nine straight starts, so the bullpen will most likely have to play a role. It would appear we won’t see a repeat of Verlander’s masterful effort in last year’s ALDS clincher in Oakland, when he shut out the Athletics on just four hits.

Like it was with Gerrit Cole of the Pirates last night, Gray went into that playoff start having never faced the Tigers before. Well, now they have gotten a look at him, so baseball bettors might expect adjustments to be made.

But will they matter as far as Miguel Cabrera is concerned? Last year’s Triple Crown winner and MVP, who could be in line for a second straight Most Valuable Player award, hit only .250 against Oakland pitching this season, which means they have some idea as to how to deal with him (he had a .348 average on the season). He’s also .250 in this series, going four of 16 with one RBI. He went one for three against Gray in Game 2, with a strikeout.

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